Netflix is nearing a deal to acquire the Kumail Nanjiani–Issa Rae comedy The Lovebirds from Paramount and Media Rights Capital, according to Deadline.
Michael Showalter (The Big Sick) directed the film, which was supposed to hit theaters April 3 following its world premiere at SXSW, which obviously did not happen. Movie theaters across the country have shut their doors indefinitely, and rather than release The Lovebirds in theaters at a later date, Paramount decided to sell the film off to Netflix, which has seen its numbers spike as people around the world quarantine themselves inside their homes.
Nanjiani and Rae star as a couple who experience a defining moment in their relationship when they are unintentionally embroiled in a murder mystery.
It’s unclear when Netflix plans to stream The Lovebirds, but I imagine it will arrive on the streaming service in the next few weeks in order to take advantage of the marketing campaign that Paramount already paid for. The film co-stars Anna Camp, Paul Sparks and Kyle Bornheimer.
Paramount and Netflix have a long history of working together, as the streaming service acquired The Cloverfield Paradox and Eli from the Melrose studio, not to mention the rights to Beverly Hills Cop 4. Deadline’s report indicates that this move has been in the works for a while, and Collider’s own sources confirm that the coronavirus pandemic had nothing to do with Paramount’s decision.
Having said that, I do believe that smaller films like The Lovebirds will either head to Netflix or be made available on VOD, as the theatrical marketplace could look very different when the coronadust settles. Netflix had planned to spend billions of dollars on original programming this year, but with production shut down for the foreseeable future, the streaming behemoth may wind up spending all that cash on finished films that appeal to its audience.